Chapter 4 - Righteousness is Eternal

Righteousness is Eternal

Righteousness is forged on the anvil of
adversity and it is eternal.

Christ describes Himself as a vine with Christians as the branches. Their stated purpose is to bear fruit.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.1

One of the primary purposes of the post resurrection ministry of Christ is not simply to receive the free gift of salvation, but also to bear fruit. And the fruit that we are to bear is the is the fruit of the Spirit and that fruit is righteousness:

...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…2

We have been chosen for the express purpose of bearing not just fruit, but permanent fruit:

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain3

He is building us, constructing us to be bearers of this fruit. He is constructing us; we are God’s building:

For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry; ye are God’s building.4

He who does the will of God will never die:

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.5

In addition to the fruits of the Spirit set forth in Galatians 5:22, we are also called to be “transformed” by the renewing of our minds that we may do the will of God.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.6

We are the branches of the vine of God.7 God has foreknown us and predestined us to be conformed to (made into) the image of righteousness (Christ).8 We were created for many reasons, but one of the most important is to bear the eternal fruits of righteousness9 and be made into the image of Christ:

...We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.10

But this building, this transformation can be painful, because pain and adversity are necessary parts of it. Life is not an easy road and it was never intended to be, not for us and not for Christ. Perhaps this concept is best encapsulated in a statement that Jesus makes to Peter, the Apostle:

Simon, Simon behold, Satan had desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not…11

Satan desired to sift Peter as wheat and apparently had permission to do so. And Jesus was quick to pray for Peter, but He did not pray that Peter would be protected from adversity. On the contrary, He tells Peter that he will encounter adversity and implies that Satan has been given leave to sift him like wheat. Jesus prays that Peter would be able to withstand the sifting. Why does He not pray that Peter would be spared it. Why? Because Peter’s faith was supposed to be tried. That is why Satan had permission to sift him. God placed Peter in a position where Peter’s righteous response in the face of adversity will bear eternal fruit.

So, the issue that Christ addresses in His prayer was not the pain that was coming to Peter, but how Peter would respond to the pain. Would he turn from his faith or would he emerge with a faith made stronger by having withstood the onslaught of Satan himself? How else would this fisherman-turned-evangelist have obtained the faith and courage necessary to become the pillar of the evangelism that brought the presence of God to the entire world?12

What choice will a man make when faced with tragedy? Will he remain honest? Will he deny his faith? Will he leave his family? Will he take revenge? Will he refuse to forgive? Will he kill, as Cain did when God rejected his sacrifice?13 The choices that man makes define him forever-precisely the way Cain has been defined forever. What has been done can never be undone. One may be forgiven,14 rehabilitated and made into a new creature,15 but the opportunity to be an author of righteousness in the face of temptation flickers and passes at the moment of choice.

Remove the requirement to choose by removing adversity from mankind and man is no longer man. Without choice or challenge, man becomes a pretender reading scripts upon a stage. He is no more real than an actor speaking courageous pretense from a script, faking courage without fear, receiving honor without price, working without effort or loving without passion. Remove temptation and adversity and real choices disappear. Without adversity we become no more significant than shadows moving across a cinema screen. Turn off the projector and they disappear.

Choosing is what righteousness really is; it is choosing the right solely because it is right and each right choice is a golden brick in God’s eternal construction. Each wrong choice is just another board hammered on, a board that will later be burned:

Now if any man build upon this foundation of gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble-Every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath build upon it, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet as by fire.16

Scripture defines choices of good or evil as choices between darkness and light17 and scripture defines the damned as those who loved darkness rather than light:

And this is the condemnation, that light [Christ] is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.18

They loved darkness because their deeds were evil, not vice versa. The love of darkness did not cause their deeds to be evil, the evil deeds caused their love of darkness. They were who they chose to be and what they chose to be was the sum of their choices. Each choice to lie;19 each choice to steal;20 each choice to gossip21 produces a piece of spiritual death. It is gradual; and with each instance it is just a little easier to die inside, a little easier to turn away from the light. Justification for sin becomes much easier as more of the Truth is obscured. As the repeated sin of fornication22 progressively obscures its own darkness as it becomes the norm, so are all sins legitimized with use. As stated by one unfortunate young person, “I crossed the line just once because I knew I could always step right back. But when I turned around I could hardly believe how far back the line was

Sin produces spiritual death and we can feel it. It is a void inside.

In the end it is man who produces his own love for darkness. Sinful choices produce the love of darkness and the love of darkness results in God’s condemnation.23 Jesus Christ is the only solution because the cross is the only thing that can change the spiritual effect of what has already been done and, without Christ, can never be undone.

He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”24

And just as we can feel the internal void of spiritual death, we can also feel the presence of spiritual (eternal) life . It is an actual experience. It is the gift of eternal life, which is knowing God, that turns lives around, makes zealots out of agnostics and saints out of atheists. Theology or change of opinion does not do this. Only Christ can do this. That is what eternal life is; it is knowing Him:

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.25

Choosing not to turn to Christ is the voluntary choice to love darkness rather than light and it results in God’s final condemnation to eternal death.26 Ultimately what we love is determined by our choices. And our choices are eternal.27

The final destination of all Christians is heaven, but we will all face the judgment seat of Christ. But the judgment seat of Christ for Christians is not a judgment of condemnation because there is no condemnation (second death) for Christians.28 The Judgment Seat of Christ is a judgment in which we each will receive “the things done in [our] body, according to that done, whether it be good or bad.”29 It too is dependent upon what we love. It is our choice and we must all render an accounting to God for what we have done on earth.30 Every choice has an eternal effect, and He tells us frankly what will happen to all of us in the end.

He tells us that the world is like a field where both wheat and weeds are growing. Wheat is valuable because it yields nourishment (righteousness). Weeds (weeds) are worthless because they yield nothing and, when eaten, they take the place of wheat depriving the body of the nourishment that it needs. In the end, both the wheat and the weeds will be gathered together. They will not be separated until they are gathered together in the end. The weeds will be destroyed but the wheat shall be gathered into God’s barn:

Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into My barn.31

At that time the righteous shall shine forth as the sun

Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.32

All of the accountings and the rewards at the judgment seat of Christ will arise from a lifetime lived out in this fabric of good and evil which is called mankind. In this fabric, all men are subject to its inherent adversities, temptations, pleasures, contentments, accomplishments, pains and death. If these adversities did not exist, neither would their righteous counterparts and there would be neither wheat nor weeds.

So, what is God doing by creating mankind with adversities? He is creating. He is creating us. He is creating us to carry the fruits of His Spirit, fruits could not exist without the entire fabric of this life that incorporates threads of adversity, threads of happiness, threads of success, threads of failure, threads of fears, of tragedy, and of peace and faith all of which are carefully woven into the magnificent tapestry of mankind.33 We are the jewels of His creation made in His image. We are His garden.

We are the branches in His vineyard that are pruned to grow His grapes. He tells clearly us that "I am the vine and you are the branches."34 The intense relevance of this verse is sometimes lost in its repetition and familiarity. But the verse reclaims its power when we realize that grapes grow only from branches, not from vines. Vines do not yield grapes; vines yield branches and branches yield grapes. We are his vineyard, His harvest.

1. John 15:1,2

2. Galatians 5:22. These are the qualities that we are to pursue.

3. John 15:16.

4. 1 Corinthians 3:9

5. 1 John 2:16,17

6. Romans 12:2

7. John 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

8. Romans 8:29 “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

9. Romans 5:21 “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”

10. Second Corinthians 3:18 “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

11. Luke 22:31.

12. Matthew 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, That thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

13. Genesis 4:8 “…Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”

14. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

15. Second Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come..”

16. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

17. See the interplay between darkness and light in Ephesians 5.

18. John 3:19

19. Revelation 21:8 "all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." When, in this verse, the categorizations of sin reach the sin of lying, scripture uses a singular emphasis by referring to all liars."

20. Exodus 20:15 "Thou shalt not steal."

21. Luke 6:37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned." Obedience to this verse and the verse following, "Forgive, and you will be forgiven" is one of the keys to internal peace and spiritual freedom. See the author's Endless Love.

22. First Corinthians 6:9 " Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals."

23. Psalm 119:119 “[You reject] all the wicked of the earth like dross

24. John 5:24

25. John 17:3

26. Revelation 21:8 “unbelievingshall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second [eternal] death.” The final condemnation of the unbeliever results in eternal death, not eternal torment. See the author’s Fate of Unbelievers.

27. Proverbs 10:24 “the righteous is an everlasting foundation.”

28. Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

29. 1 Corinthians 5:10.

30. Romans 14:12 “So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.”

31. Matthew 13:30

32. Matthew 13:43”

33. Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

34. John 15:5 " "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.'